Billboard thinks the digital music market is ready to go mainstream:
- What a difference a year makes to the maturation of the digital music market.
In the past 12 months, the major labels have opened the content floodgates, authorizing hundreds of thousands of tracks for Internet distribution.
Apple Computer has sold more than 6 million downloads through its iTunes Music Store since its debut in April, and since launching in February, AOL claims that more than 75,000 subscribers are paying $10 per month to access on-demand music through MusicNet.
This growth spurt for sales of music in digital form comes at the end of five years of plodding development, frustration and false starts.
Online music executives hope that recent developments signal that the digital distribution concept finally is poised for mainstream acceptance.
“We think we are at the tipping point,” says Richard Wolpert, chief strategist at Real Networks. “We can see a path to this all making sense as an offering for consumers and as a business for us and the labels.”
That Apple and AOL, two of the biggest names in Internet and technology, have generated a total of $4 million in revenue may not seem like much in the context of the $32 billion global music business.
But it shows clearly, for the first time, that consumers will pay for digital music.
That will be the topic du jour among attendees July 28-29 at the Jupiter Plug.IN Conference in New York.
The challenge now facing Internet and music executives is how to take the digital music business to the mainstream market.
“The focus will be on crossing over from the enthusiast to the general public,” listen.com CEO Sean Ryan says.
Much of the talk at the ninth annual Plug.IN confab will likely center on feeding demand for online music among PC users, who account for 98 percent of the U.S. computer market. In contrast, the iTunes Music Store works only on Apple computers, which account for 2 percent of the U.S. market.
A host of leading media and technology brands bet that well-marketed pay-per-download offerings are the way to go.
The article goes on to discuss the various services and their methods of delivery and pricing. To compete with the file sharing services, a la carte prices need to come down at least to $.50 or below, restrictions on song usage need to be minimized or eliminated, and artists need to get with the program and allow their music to be used, and to be purchased by the song – forcing the album format is just greedy and shortsighted.